Sunday, December 11, 2022

Status of the book, December 2022

Three months ago I posted here that I had begun work anew on the book that has been percolating in my gray matter since 2014.  That was when Dad told me I should write about my struggles with bipolar disorder.  He thought it could be inspirational to others.

And then of course, Dad passed and that knocked me off my feet.  And since then a lot has happened: the journey across America, new career and then changing career (and now, again), new town and new faces... all of this the backdrop against an ever-evolving saga of my mental health.  The book then, in whatever form it was going to take, is radically different from the project now before me.

I am happy to report that after a few false starts with how to open the book, that it is now well on track.  Late last night I finished the first draft of the new prologue.  It no longer opens with me in handcuffs, being taken away to a psychiatric facility.  The prologue now is one page of Microsoft Word that comes barreling at ya at 90 miles an hour, literally.  The preface was completed a week and a half ago.  Yesterday I finished chapter one and it's now in the hands of a few faithful friends who I'm awaiting feedback from.  The chapter about the school board run is also done.  There exist a few incomplete chapters, which I will be getting to as the Muse leads (wow, haven't mentioned "the Muse" in quite many years, I think).

I want this book to be a thorough chronicle of my life not only in spite of bipolar disorder but also much other traumatic experience, that have only been addressed in recent years (another reason why I'm glad I'm working on this now instead of trying to publish it then).  I also need for it to be a homage to everyone who has entered my life and helped me along the way.  I hope this will reach out to some of them.

And the title?  I've had about a dozen ideas for that.  Last week it was called "American Manic".  But this book is going to be about so much more than manic depression.  It needs a title that reflects a deeper life story.

For the past three days I've been fighting a nasty bug that at one point had my temperature reaching 104 Fahrenheit (or 40 centigrade for our metric friends).  During the delirium and convulsions I came to a spiritual place of peace that I had been praying to reach for most of my life.  And accompanying that, arrived an idea for a title.

(I think I underwent what my Native American brethren refer to as a sweat lodge, whether I wanted it or not.  I was perspiring like a pig as the fever broke.)

And now, I think it does have a title.  A good one.  Beautiful, even.  That doesn't refer to mental illness at all.  But instead could be interpreted as being about my entire journey, from the moment I was born on through young life and into adulthood.

I hope my high school freshman English teacher gets to read this.  She owns that preface!

I've read a number of autobiographies by people with bipolar disorder over the years.  Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind and Terri Cheney's Manic were two of them.  I am currently reading Electroboy by Andy Behrman (as high energy a jolt of a book as I've ever come across).  It doesn't hurt to study those who have gone before.  But I like to think that my own humble contribution to literature about life with mental illness will have a style all its own.  If it can carve out some small niche which readers will discover and be led to think about and even be entertained by, that would make me very happy indeed.

So, work is well underway.  Maybe it will come out before The Winds of Winter (come on Martin, what's KEEPING you??!).  I am looking forward to the next few weeks and months as it develops further.

Next up: chapter two.  Which begins in Washington, D.C.  Or maybe not.


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